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Clutter hindered firefighting efforts in West Park fatal blaze

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CLEVELAND (WJW)-- A man is dead and two people are recovering in the hospital after a house fire started in the West Park neighborhood of Cleveland on Monday.

It was a morning people who live on Doris Road said they’ll never forget.

"This is, you know, one of those things that you never expect to happen,” said Cody Dieckman who lives next door. He was working in his home office when he heard an unusual scream.

"I peeked out my window that faces his house and that's when I saw the flames." He called 911 and ran out of his house.

"I was hearing some glass breaking as I was screaming his name seeing if I could hear where he was and that's when I saw his girlfriend outside she was kind of bloody like she jumped from the window and everything,” Dieckman said.

Cleveland firefights arrived around 9 a.m. and were told a man in his late 60s to early 70s was still inside. They said the amount of clutter in the home made it hard to get through.

"The fire was deep-seated. The fire started on the first floor and spread to the second floor. So having that fire inside of all of that clutter inside made it more challenging from both a search and rescue perspective and to actually fight that fire,” said Lt. Mike Norman with the Cleveland Division of Fire.

Sadly, the man lost his life. The woman was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center. Cleveland fire  officials said one of their own was also taken to the hospital for a shoulder injury. Both are expected to be OK.

Neighbors and firefighters said a dog seems to be missing as well.

"He kept to himself, but he loved that dog and he always had that dog with him,” Dieckman said.

Neighbors who have lived on the street for decades acknowledged the clutter.

"There's always been issues with the house next door as far as hoarding. They never cut the grass. My husband would cut the grass,” Debbie Orlosky said.

But they said the man was part of the fabric of the community.

"He'd be sitting outside with his dog and we'd wave as I'd walk past or drive past and he's lived here my whole life,” said Sarah Reardon who also lives nearby.

They said he was kind, personable and always willing to help others.

"He told me stories of what this neighborhood was like back then when he was a kid,” Dieckman said.

His loss is felt by many in the neighborhood.

"Take care of your neighbors. This is a great street that we live on. We have wonderful neighbors and you don't want to see this happen to anyone,” Orlosky said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Norman said it is considered not suspicious at this time.

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